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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

6/5/4/3

23 Dec 2016, 03:34 UTC
6/5/4/3
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It was like the opening pages of a thriller. In the gathering dusk of an early winter evening last year, the postman handed me a package with a Belgian postmark and a cryptic symbol.

Inside, wrapped in layers of translucent paper, were two books, both in French. Nothing else. Needless to say, I was intrigued…
Dialectique du Monstre by Sylvain Piron revealed itself (with the use of Google Translate) to be a close study of the life and work of Opicinus de Canistris (1296-c.1353), a mysterious, psychologically tormented clerical official attached to the Avignon Papacy. The book is filled with reproductions of Opicinus’ elaborate parchment diagrams, which are like figments of fever dreams of Archimedes or Leonardo; bizarre maps and masses of symbols harboring intimations just out of reach, a taproot into unseen connections between individuals, cities, whole worlds.

A while back, I wrote of the Electra Hypothesis, the idea that as the planet binds itself and its bit processes into an ever more interconnected web of radio links and optical fiber, its computational edges and nodes will develop into something of a sequel to Lovelock’s Gaia. Although layered in ambiguity, and separated by a gulf of time and mindset, ...

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